There are those who may say I am ill-equipped to write on a subject like keeping your mind right. I am the first to agree. Yet here we are!
Now, I am not talking about any sort of clinical diagnosis. I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on tv.
I’m also not a Saneist. I know many people who have had a label stapled to them that identifies them as existing, in a mental health sense, outside society’s acceptable lines. Many of these friends I believe are just way ahead of the curve in their perspective on how to approach life in general. Who is to say they are not right?
No, I’m talking about how you keep your head in the game for the long-term as an interpreter, without burning out.
In a previous Note I admitted that sometimes you just have to walk away. But, there are things you can do short of that to keep your mind, body and spirit in healthy alignment.
First, admit to yourself that this is a highly stressful profession. It is. you are not weak of body or spirit by admitting this. We often stand with our Clients at the high and low points of their lives and that takes a toll.
Second, remember that interpreting is not who you are, it’s what you do. See Rule 7 https://uncledalesrulesforinterpreters.wordpress.com/2017/03/10/rule-7/
If you make your whole identity “interpreting” then you are at the mercy of forces outside your control.
You will have bad appointments.
Everyone has a bad appointment sometime or another. If you tie your self-worth to how well you interpret then what happens when that bad appointment tries to crush you?
Third, You have to have outlets and interest outside of interpreting. Some should even be outside the Deaf community completely! And before you (Deaf or hearing) think that is me saying that there is something about the Deaf community that hearing people must escape, remember that even Deaf people go fly fishing alone sometimes. Hearing or Deaf we all skip the family party sometimes. It is possible to have a great deal of love and connection with a culture, or family or group or even a person and really just need to spend some time away from them every once in a while. As Aunt SuperTam tells me on a fairly regular basis, “how can I miss you if you won’t go away.”
These are little escapes. Mini-vacations for your soul. A Walkabout.
How do I escape? Well, recently I have started telling stories at regional storytelling festivals:
Last year I won the title of Utah’s Biggest Liar at the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival. I tell mostly stories about my adventures with my Grandfather who was a large animal veterinarian, a great grandpa and not wedded to the idea of personal safety; which is the basis for a good story.
Every so often I try out for a play and do a little community theatre:
Boris Kolenkhov in “You Can’t Take It With You”
Cornelius Hackl in “Hello Dolly”
And just this week I got the role of Snoopy in “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” playing in June.
It’s a little escape. A little outlet. A little mini-vacation time, outside the world of interpreting.
The great part is this “little time away” from the Deaf Community makes me appreciate and love it even more when I return. I am more focused, more engaged and it helps me keep my head and perspective in tune. It keeps me sane, you could say.
Maybe AuntSuperTam is on to something. Maybe, just maybe, you can’t miss it if you don’t go away.